California Rules That Popcorn Sold in Theaters is Not Taxable

In a ruling regarding a refund claim, California ruled that popcorn sold in movie theaters is not subject to California sales and use tax due to the fact that it is not intended to be sold as a “hot food product.” The popcorn is popped and then placed in a “cornditioner” which stores the product until it is served to a customer. The cornditioner contains a fan and heating element intended to dehydrate the popped popcorn until it is served. The popcorn’s packaging contains no elements designed to insulate the popcorn. Since it is not intended to be served warm, and is instead served at room temperature, the popcorn does not fall under the California definition of hot prepared food and is not subject to tax. (Century Theaters, Inc. California State Board of Equalization. Nov. 4, 2004)

Posted on November 30, 2004